ALEISTER CROWLEY - Ch III - Liber AL vel Legis - Verse Commentary

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
(sub figura CCXX as delivered by XCIII = 418 to DCLXVI)


Thelema is not a dogma, but a process of exploration and human evolution.
It is essentially an ever-spreading meme, a meta-program of self-creation, which has been wrapped and disguised in the mystery and romance of ancient gods, using deeply magical poetic images that move us on many levels, from the erotic to the intellectual to the sacred, to draw us out of our shells and provide new mythic archetypes to expand our horizons.

The Third Chapter

1. Abrahadabra ! the reward of Ra Hoor Khut.

ABRAHADABRA is a key word of power totaling 418, the formula of the Age and of cosmic consciousness.
The seed-name of HAD appears in the center, and the twin ABRAs, appearing on each side like the wings of the solar orb, are likely derived from the gnostic deity Abraxas or Abrasax, whose essential nature is not unlike that of Hadit.
The reward of these practices is thus the transfiguration of the Self.
Reward (re-ward: to guard again?) joins the quintessential Words of Manifestation and Hiding in the first verses of each chapter. 

2.There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known. Spelling is defunct; all is not aught. Beware ! Hold ! Raise the spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit !

The phrase ‘division hither homeward‘ is rather odd; perhaps it implies the cleaving of an original unity as the creation of the universe, and its reversal by reuniting as the completion of the quest to return; perhaps to the necessary divisions of nature, society, and reality.
The word unknown may be that of Creation, or of the lost word of the master mason, or the holy unspeakable name of God, or more likely the truer name which has superseded that now obsolete formula.
Could ‘spelling’ really mean ‘to make spells’, and that Old Age techniques are defunct and must be rejuvenated ?
Crowley notes “this is characteristic of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, that He demands not words, but acts.” ‘all is not aught‘ may be a criticism of monotheism, or perhaps ‘One is not Zero’ ?
Had & Nu, AL & LA again ? ‘Beware !’ or ‘be aware’ is usually good advice.

3. Now let it be first understood that I am a god of War and of Vengeance. I shall deal hardly with them.

Declares the nature of Horus as a god of battle, ruthless in the pursuit of victory.
The Third Chapter is usually the hardest to accept for most people, as much of the tone is violent, raging, and even bloodthirsty.
We cannot excuse this as mere rhetoric.
This martial Warrior aspect of the reigning 'god-form' hardly seems an improvement on all of previous history, but merely a continuation.
How then can we view it ?
As a clear reflection of humanity itself in a mirror of the terrible events of our age ?
Or as the violence necessary to overthrow grotesquely tyrannical systems.
To fight the powers that be, must we become them.
History is a nightmare from which we are trying to awaken”.
We must acknowledge that an estimated 160 million people perished in the wars of the 20th century, and that more violence, disease and famine define countless lives today.
We stand as always between the moment of final disaster and the cusp of unknown Utopias, dancing on the razor edge of the Sword Bridge that crosses the Abyss.
The Justice of the Age of Maat must balance the inevitable War promised by the Age of Horus. It is Time for a Change. 
Progress has been made, but our civilizations still have a long way to go.
Here is the true war of the Magical Child: the merging of the Dual Ages, where the Warrior Hawk-God serves Liberty and Truth in the cause of Justice.
This is the tidal wave of our time, when we all finally learn to think for ourselves.

4.  Choose ye an island!
5.  Fortify it !
6.  Dung it about with enginery of war !

This speaks to the establishment of a place of power, to be physically impregnable and unassailable.
It is quite possible that this 'enginery' is something other than mere fire-power.
Crowley defines verses 4-8 as a new method of meditation: by choosing a chakra, concentrating upon it, preventing outside impressions from affecting it, thus forming a mechanism that will overcome and still the hordes of unsteady or invading thought-forms.

7.  I will give you a war-engine.
8.  With it ye shall smite the peoples; and none shall stand before you.

There have been several nominations for this device: in light of the history of the 20th century, the atomic bomb must certainly be considered, as must the ubiquitous flying saucer. In terms of Thelemic magick, the sexual drive is certainly an option, but some suggest the computer and the new structures of the Internet may be more likely.
If knowledge is power, then information is a weapon; and the Stele of Revealing strongly resembles a computer screen above, while the lines of hieroglyphics below look very like a keyboard.
As for the World Wide Web, ‘www’ as three 6’s (Vau, the Hierophant trump) would be 666!

9. Lurk! Withdraw ! Upon them! this is the Law of the Battle of Conquest: thus shall my worship be about my secret house.

For formulae of battle, read Sun-Tzu’s Art of War.

10. Get the stele of revealing itself; set it in thy secret temple - and that temple is already aright disposed - & it shall be your Kiblah for ever. It shall not fade, but miraculous colour shall come back to it day after day. Close it in locked glass for a proof to the world.

The Stele of Revealing is the primary icon of the Thelemic Cultus; and should be placed upon the altar.
The prophecies regarding colour may refer to a deepening sense of meaning, or be a physical phenomenon of miraculous nature.
Locked in glass would be typical of the museum environment where it currently resides.
In Islam the Kiblah is the niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction towards the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba where prayers are directed; it strongly resembles the ‘false door’ found in ancient Egyptian tombs, which served as a gateway for spirits.
Crowley describes the temple of his original invocation as octagonal with mirrors on each wall, entrances at each quarter, an altar flanked by twin obelisks, with a lamp hanging over it.
The Golden Dawn and Freemasonry also employ two columns, often seen in the Atus of the Priestess and Hierophant.
The link between the Beast or Aiwaz and the Maatian concept of N'Aton begins with Ankh-f-n-Khonsu as the representative of humanity on the Stele of Revealing, where he is depicted along with the company of heaven (Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khu).
All three may be avatars of the world-spirit or zeitgeist, first at the in-betweeness-point of the Age of Isis/Age of Osiris juncture; then Therion sparks the contemporary Age of Osiris/Age of Horus changeover; and then we all manifest as the awakened N'Aton when Age of Horus/Age of Maat occurs.
These are the silences in-between the sequence of Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, and the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow of my personal continuum, the link with the Nameless Aeons beyond...

11. This shall be your only proof. I forbid argument. Conquer ! That is enough. I will make easy to you the abstruction from the ill ordered house in the Victorious City. Thou shalt thyself convey it with worship, o prophet, though thou likest it not. Thou shalt have danger & trouble. Ra-Hoor-Khu is with thee. Worship me with fire & blood; worship me with swords & with spears. Let the woman be girt with a sword before me: let blood flow to my name. Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, O warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat !

Unfortunately, it appears that Crowley was unable to loot the (ill-ordered then, and apparently still rather cluttered to this day) Cairo Museum in his lifetime (Al-Kahira is the victorious city), although one strongly suspects he must have tried bribery at some point.
No doubt he would have made efforts to acquire the original, but he had to settle for a copy, stating: “Abstruction'.
It was thought that this meant to combine abstraction and construction, i.e. the preparation of a replica, which was done.”
The true goal of Conquest is to master one’s Self.
Judging others is futile.
Fire & blood, swords & spears, still seem to be remarkably accurate depictions of current conditions in the Middle East. Swords represent Intellect and the Mind, while Spears unite the Wand and Sword as a symbol of the Magical Will.
Aspirants should understand that to Thelemites the verb 'to worship' means 'to identify with'.
It is 'love under will'.
The woman girt with a sword might be Maat as the atu Justice with sword & scales of balance; contrasted to Babalon, with her cup or grail.
flesh to eat !’ suggests the very primal ritual.
It was believed that one could absorb the courage of a slain foe by devouring his heart, for instance, and the theme appears in many cultures.
Weapons are among the earliest artefacts seen as inherently magical, holding the power of life & death, of battle and of sacrifice, and are still used in many arcane rites worldwide.
It should be noted that “HEATHEN=5+5+1+9+5+5+50=80, is one of the Holy Numbers.
The Heathen are all those who do not accept the Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt.
It does not mean "people who are not of our religion".
Thelema is not a religion. 
It is a Method of Theurgy - or of Parapsychoanalysis.

12. Sacrifice cattle, little and big: after a child.

The widespread incidents of mysterious cattle mutilations are rather disquieting in this context; one hopes fundamentalist Crowleyites are not taking things too literally, and it really is cute little aliens in shiny UFOs with a taste for hamburgers. The reference to a child is even more disturbing, but see below. ‘after a child’, in honor of a child?

13. But not now.

A divine exhortation to joyous procrastination.
This verse can be written as a magical square:

14. Ye shall see that hour, o blessed Beast, and thou the Scarlet Concubine of his desire!
15. Ye shall be sad thereof.

Returning to the subject of the sacrificial child, Crowley sadly endured the deaths of two of his children (by Rose and by Leah).
This was far more common even in developed countries and very recent times than we tend to realize in our era of more advanced medicine.
The constant death toll of children in much of the world today makes a hideous mockery of progress and of any notion of compassion among nations.
Crowley was actually very fond of children in general.

16. Deem not too eagerly to catch the promises; fear not to undergo the curses. Ye, even ye, know not this meaning all.

Any preconceptions limit one’s possibilities; and the 'Book of the Law' clearly still has encoded mysteries to reveal. ‘know not this meaning all’ is obviously LA and AL again.

17. Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth. Nu is your refuge as Hadit your light; and I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms.

Fear kills, courage triumphs.
The phrase ‘in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth‘ echoes the ritual refrain of Liber Samekh s.f. LX (often called the Ritual of the Bornless One), and the traditional tripartite division of Indo-European cosmology into the upper or celestial realm of the gods, the human level of earthly nature, and the daemonic underworld of the dead.

18. Mercy let be off: damn them who pity! Kill and torture; spare not; be upon them !

In the last analysis, victory is survival and defeat is death.
We in the western democracies like to assume that human progress is inevitable, but this simply ignores the fact that large portions of the globe are currently falling into warfare and famine, and that there are no sure bets in history: all empires do eventually fall.
Darwinian evolution implies natural and unnatural selection.
To pity another person implies a condescending attitude of superiority over them.
Also, there may also be an alchemical element to this, as descriptions of the fiery process of purifying and refining the 'Philosopher’s Stone' use metaphors of torture, death and incest to describe some phases of the Great Work.
The initiation experiences of shamans and mystics often recount visions of dismemberment, seething in cauldrons, and being reborn and reassembled with magical changes like bones of gold or flesh of crystal or new eyes or heart.
“There is a practical aspect to this whole question that had better be mentioned, and it consists of the Ordeal that might be called 'Invoking Mercy'.
Aspirants will occasionally try to blackmail Heru-ra-ha, or Aiwass, or 666, into 'saving them'. 
Such Aspirants will deliberately get themselves into dangerous situations, into desperate straits, hoping for a last minute 'rescues by "the Gods".
Such Aspirants usually die.
When they do not die, they go insane.
Let this be a warning. Heru-ra-ha shows no mercy.
What He has to say to anybody in a desperate situation is this: "Success is your proof; courage is your armour. There is no law beyond 'Do what thou wilt'."

19. That stele they shall call the Abomination of Desolation; count well its name, & it shall be to you as 718.

In the old testament the phrase 'Abomination of Desolation' seems to refer to pagan idolatry, and the desecration and eventual destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, while it later also became part of the overwrought biblical symbolism of the 'Antichris't in 'End Times' fundamentalism based upon the Revelation of St. John.
Now it may seem that the Great Beast of the Apocalypse is ourselves.
After much research Crowley found the Greek word for Stele as CYHAH = 52; the exhibit catalog description in the Boulak museum is Stele 666, and 52+666 =718= STELE 666.
Half of 718 is 359, SHaiTaN or Satan. To be ‘desolate’ is to be utterly alone.

20. Why? Because of the fall of Because, that he is not there again.

Very significant in the light of quantum physics, which now seems to have effectively kissed causality in any absolute sense goodbye.
This is a very sharp axe at the very roots of much of Western philosophy.

21. Set up my image in the East: thou shalt buy thee an image which I will show thee, especial, not unlike the one thou knowest. And it shall be suddenly easy for thee to do this.

A possible reference to the god Set ?
The altar should usually face the rising sun in the east, although it is occasionally oriented otherwise for special purposes (Norse and Wiccan altars usually face north).
Every adept who is fully aligned to the 93 current of energy may find that the appropriate image of the Deity who best expresses the quest of their individual Self will indeed mysteriously find them.
Magick is applied synchronicity.

22. The other images group around me to support me: let all be worshipped, for they shall cluster to exalt me. I am the visible object of worship; the others are secret; for the Beast & his Bride are they: and for the winners of the Ordeal x. What is this ? Thou shalt know.

These ‘other images’ are suggestive of the personal practice of a universal or pantheist or syncretistic Paganism, with all gods drawn into the orbit of the New Age.
Horus is the central focus, but the key of Thelema reconciles many belief systems.
Most mages tend to intuitively discover their own personal patron deities who act to guide and expedite their evolution.

There are to be no regular temples of Nuith and Hadit, for They are incommensurables, and absolutes.
Our religion therefore, for the People, is the Cult of the Sun, who is our particular star of the Body of Nuit, from whom, in the strictest scientific sense, come this earth, a chilled spark of Him, and all our Light and Life.
His vice-regent and representative in the animal kingdom is His cognate symbol the Phallus, representing Love and Liberty.
Ra-Hoor-Khuit, like all true 'Gods', is therefore a Solar-Phallic deity.
But we regard Him as He is in truth, eternal; the Solar-Phallic deities of the old Age, such as Osiris, "Christ", Hiram, Adonis, Hercules, &c., were supposed, through our ignorance of the Cosmos, to 'die' and ‘rise again'.
Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the 'Crowned and Conquering Child'.
This is also a reference to the 'Crowned' and Conquering 'Child' in ourselves, our own personal God.”
The ‘ordeal X’ has a rather ominous ring to it.
It is probably be a different challenge for every individual; we will not know what it may be until the moment it leaps at our throats with great grinning teeth.
The process of initiation is like that.
As a symbol of crossing ‘X’ may well refer to the 'Abyss', or the 'Throne of the Siege Perilous' in Arthurian myth.
And the Abyss must be crossed far more than once !
Religions, it should be noted, are simply 'dead magicks', and world events show clearly that monotheism has passed its time and begun to decay.

23. For perfume mix meal & honey & thick leavings of red wine: then oil of Abramelin and olive oil, and afterward soften & smooth down with rich fresh blood.

A very specific formula for the Cakes of Light, used as a sacrament in the Gnostic Mass and other rites.

24. The best blood is of the moon, monthly: then the fresh blood of a child, or dropping from the host of heaven: then of enemies; then of the priest or of the worshipers: last of some beast, no matter what.

Crowley suggests either menstrual blood (for much more on that consult the works of Kenneth Grant) or dragon’s blood (an herbal substance common in magical incenses, definitely not recommended for taste). We enter the realm of sex-magick: the Child is the union of Babalon and the Beast, of the sperm fertilizing the ovum, traditionally depicted as a serpent coiled around an egg, a symbol of the mysteries.

25. This burn: of this make cakes & eat unto me. This hath also another use; let it be laid before me, and kept thick with perfumes of your orison: it shall become full of beetles as it were and creeping things sacred unto me.
26. These slay, naming your enemies; & they shall fall before you.

Regarding the use of the cakes for burning, Crowley remarks “This incense was made; and the prediction most marvellously fulfilled.

27. Also these shall breed lust & power of lust in you at the eating thereof.

Crowley remarks “These experiments, however, were not made.”

28. Also ye shall be strong in war.
29. Moreover, be they long kept, it is better; for they swell with my force. All before me.

This whole sequence would appear to be a formula for an altar full of swarming beetles, which may be sacrificed to destroy one’s enemies or eaten to increase the libido.
The god Khephra is represented by the scarab-beetle as a symbol of endless becoming, transformation and regeneration.
A profane slew a beetle before Ra-Hoor-Khuit, naming a person he considered his enemy; and soon after, the profane went mad. An Initiate slew a beetle before Ra-Hoor-Khuit, naming a person he considered his enemy; and soon after, this person fell before him. An Exempt Adept slew a beetle before Ra-Hoor-Khuit, naming the person he considered his worst enemy, that is, himself and soon after, he became a Master of the Temple.”

30. My altar is of open brass work: burn thereon in silver or gold !

A specific ritual instruction for the burning of incense and offerings.
Silver for Woman and Moon, Gold for Man and Sun.

31. There cometh a rich man from the West who shall pour his gold upon thee.

In Egypt and elsewhere the West is the Land of the Dead, the setting sun.

32. From gold forge steel!
33. Be ready to fly or to smite !

A very alchemical reference.
The path of Lamed or Balance sacred to Maat connects the Sun, gold, the flight of the hawk and Mars, iron or steel, battle, and this movement from the golden solar center (the Augoeides) to the warrior-sphere of action and Horus seems to be a key of the third chapter; from Hadit to Ra-Hoor, personal initiation to external commitment to change in the world.
The Falcon God soars as the Sun, smites as the Warrior.

34. But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place. Another prophet shall arise, and bring fresh fever from the skies; another woman shall awake the lust & worship of the Snake; another soul of God and beast shall mingle in the globed priest; another sacrifice shall stain the tomb; another king shall reign; and blessing no longer be poured To the Hawk-headed mystical Lord !

This is often seen as a prophecy of the future Age of Maat, the Double-Wanded One, and the Age of the Daughter to follow that of the Son.
Quotes from Crowley in his Comment summarize this event:
This prophecy, relating to centuries to come, does not concern the present writer at the moment. Yet he must expound it.
The Hierarchy of the Egyptians gives us this genealogy: Isis, Osiris, Horus.
Now the 'pagan' period is that of Isis; a pastoral, natural period of simple magic.
Next with Buddha, Christ, and others there came in the Equinox of Osiris; when sorrow and death ware the principal objects of man's thought, and his magical formula is that of sacrifice. 
Now, with Mohammed perhaps as its forerunner, comes in the Equinox of Horus, the young child who rises strong and conquering (with his twin Harpocrates) to avenge Osiris, and bring on the age of strength and splendour.
His formula is not yet fully understood.
Following him will arise the Equinox of Ma, the Goddess of Justice, it may be a hundred or ten thousand years from now; for the Computation of Time is not here as There.”
Hrumachis is the Dawning Sun; he therefore symbolizes any new course of events.
The "double-wanded one" is "Thmaist of dual form as Thmais and Thmait", from whom the Greeks derived their Themis, goddess of Justice.”

35. The half of the word of Heru-ra-ha, called Hoor-pa-kraat and Ra-Hoor-Khut.

This may indicate that half of the word of Horus is concealed in Maat.
It might also show the dual nature of Horus, who in Egyptian myth had a younger (Hoor-pa-kraat, Horus the child, the babe in the lotus, son of Isis & Osiris) and an older form (Horus as god of kingship, linked to Ra, present in the original Ennead of the primal gods).
These are the passive, inward-turning, silent-meditation and active, outward-facing, word-speaking aspects of the god, the paths of mysticism and gnostic magick respectively.
They are our internal and external experiences.
Heru-ra-ha unites both and as HeRU-RA-HA equals 418, and may well be the ultimate name of the Lord of the Age.

36. Then said the prophet unto the God:
37. I adore thee in the song –

This song consists of the remaining verses of Crowley’s poetic translation of the text of the 'Stele of Revealing', which was used as part of the invocation that led to the transmission, and which began with the first verse back in c.I, v.14:

Above, the gemmed azure is
The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
The secret ardours of Hadit.
The winged globe, the starry blue,
Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!)

and now continues:

I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veiled sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

These are the names of the gods worshipped by the priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu, who dwelt in the city of Thebes and apparently served Mentu (the warrior-god Montu, who is armed with a spear) and revered Ra and Horus.

Unity uttermost showed !
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee: -
I, I adore thee !

The Egyptian transliteration of this potent mantra is allegedly:
“A ka dua, tuf ur biu, bia chefu, dudu ner af an nuteru !”

Appear on the throne of Ra !
Open the ways of the Khu !
Lighten the ways of the Ka !
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me !
Aum ! let it fill me !

He invokes the solar power to awaken the various parts of his soul.
The Ka is the double, sometimes identified as the 'True Will', or the astral body.
The ancient Egyptians had several other components of the soul, including the Akh, the Shadow and the Ba.

38. So that thy light is in me; & its red flame is as a sword in my hand to push thy order. There is a secret door that I shall make to establish thy way in all the quarters, (these are the adorations, as thou hast written), as it is said:
The light is mine; its rays consume
Me: I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
I am thy Theban, O Mentu,
The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu !

This solar energy is adored at the four quarters of the world (space) and four times daily (time), establishing the 93 current both in the adepts and in their surroundings.
These are the four names of the sun god used in the daily salutations at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight in 'Liber Resh vel Helios'.
Ra or Re is the ‘Sun’ god, Tum or Atum is the ‘Complete One’, Khephra is the scarab-beetle and the principle of eternal transformation (‘the Being, the Extant’) and was originally ascribed to the dawn rather than midnight as Crowley has it.
Ahathoor is the golden goddess Hathor, the ‘House (or womb) of Horus’, the mother, sister, bride and daughter of the supreme deity.
She is the Sky in daytime, as Nuit is in the night.

By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;
By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.
Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!
Bid me within thine House to dwell,
O winged snake of light, Hadit!
Abide with me, Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Bes is a grotesque dwarf-god, a musician and protector much invoked in ancient magick, and like another phallic god named Min he is sometimes linked to Pan.
Maut is a vulture-goddess, perhaps connected to Maat.
Of Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit we have already spoken.
(Bes-na-Maut and Ta-Nech are probably the parents of Ankh-f-n-Khonsu; it was common to identify yourself with them in formal inscriptions.)
This is all, of course, Crowley’s paraphrase of the Stele.
A modern translation of the original hieroglyphics on the front reads:

Hadit, the great god, lord of the sky.
Ra-Hoor-Khut, chief of the gods.
The deceased, prophet of Mentu, lord of Thebes, the one for whom the doors of the sky are opened in Thebes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu.
Bread, water, cattle and fowl."

(These are the names of the gods on the upper section.
Bread, water, cattle and fowl’ is a common offering formula, referring to the table of offerings being made by the deceased, who will be sustained by them in the afterlife.
Such spells from the funerary 'Book of Coming Forth by Day' have been called passports to eternity.)

"The deceased, the prophet of Mentu, lord of Thebes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu, true-of-voice, says: "O sublime one! I adore the greatness of your spirits, o formidable soul, who inspires terror of himself among the gods. Appearing on his great throne, he travels the path of the soul, of the spirit, and of the body, having received the light, being equipped, I have made my path towards the place in which Ra, Tum, Khephra, and Hathor are; I, the deceased priest of Mentu, lord of Thebes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu, son of a person of the same rank, Bes-n-Maut, and of the priestess of Amoun-Ra, the mistress of the house Ta-Nech."

And on the often neglected reverse of the stele:

The deceased, the prophet of Mentu, lord of Thebes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu, true-of-voice, says: "O my heart of my mother, O heart which I had while I was on earth, do not rise up against me in witness, do not oppose me as a judge, do not charge me in the presence of the great god, lord of the West, because I have joined the land to the great West when I was flourishing on earth!" The deceased, priest of Thebes, Ankh-f-n-khonsu, true-of-voice, says: "O, you who only has one arm, who shines in the moon, the deceased Ankh-f-n-khonsu has left the multitudes and rejoined those who are in the light, he has opened the dwelling-place of the stars (the Duaut); now then, the deceased Ankh-f-n-khonsu has gone forth by day in order to do everything that pleased him upon earth, among the living."

In Crowley’s hands this verse became:

Saith of Mentu the truth-telling brother?
Who was master of Thebes from his birth:
O heart of me, heart of my mother!
O heart which I had upon earth!
Stand not thou up against me a witness!
Oppose me not, judge, in my quest!
Accuse me not now of unfitness?
Before the Great God,
the dread Lord of the West!?
For I fastened the one to the other?
With a spell for their mystical girth,
The earth and the wonderful West,
When I flourished, o earth, on thy breast!

The dead man Ankh-f-n-Khonsu?
Saith with his voice of truth and calm:
O thou that hast a single arm!
O thou that glitterest in the moon!
I weave thee in the spinning charm;
I lure thee with the billowy tune.

The dead man Ankh-f-n-Khonsu?
Hath parted from the darkling crowds,
Hath joined the dwellers of the light,
Opening Duaut, the star-abodes,
Their keys receiving.
The dead man Ankh-f-n-Khonsu?
Hath made his passage into night,
His pleasure on the earth to do?
Among the living.”

39. All this and a book to say how thou didst come hither and a reproduction of this ink and paper for ever - for it is in the word secret & not only in the English - and thy comment upon this the Book of the Law shall be printed beautifully in red ink and black upon beautiful paper made by hand; and to each man and woman that thou meetest, were it but to dine or to drink at them, it is the Law to give. Then they shall chance to abide in this bliss or no; it is no odds. Do this quickly !

This spreading of the Word continues.
The Equinox of the Gods is Crowley’s official account of these stellar events, and is supplemented by the autobiographical 'Temple of Solomon the King', his 'Confessions' and other writings, and touched upon by later biographies.

40. But the work of the comment ? That is easy; and Hadit burning in thy heart shall make swift and secure thy pen.

Actually, Crowley laboured over his comments for many years and reveal both his intellect and devotion.

41. Establish at thy Kaaba a clerk-house: all must be done well and with business way.

Professional organization is very practical advice, not always followed.
A mage must be competent in the material as well as spiritual realms.
The Kaaba is the site of the black stone fallen from heaven, worshipped in Pagan times and preserved by Islam as the goal of pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca.
The Palladium was a similar meteoric stone sacred to Athena.

42. The ordeals thou shalt oversee thyself, save only the blind ones. Refuse none, but thou shalt know & destroy the traitors. I am Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and I am powerful to protect my servant. Success is thy proof: argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch! Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; & destroy them utterly. Swift as a trodden serpent turn and strike! Be thou yet deadlier than he ! Drag down their souls to awful torment: laugh at their fear: spit upon them !

The blind ordeals are those presented by life’s random events, rather than planned by any structured initiatory scheme.
There is more rather savage rhetoric, which we must assume serves a real purpose for the survival and dissemination of this message and its adherents.
Clearly the Hawk-God does not suffer fools gladly.

43. Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men; as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.

A dire prophecy concerning those who take a solemn oath to complete this work and then break it.
Unfortunately, fates not unlike this befell some of Crowley’s working partners, a very clear demonstration of the extreme volatility of these forces and practices.
Magical oaths are serious things, and tend to work out in very unexpected and occasionally explosive ways.

44. But let her raise herself with pride ! Let her follow me in my way ! Let her work the work of wickedness ! Let her kill her heart ! Let her be loud and adulterous ! Let her be covered with jewels, and rich garments, and let her be shameless before all men !

These are some very specific formulas for the Scarlet Woman.

45. Then will I lift her to pinnacles of power: then will I breed from her a child mightier than all the kings of the earth. I will fill her with joy: with my force shall she see & strike at the worship of Nu: she shall achieve Hadit.

‘Joy’ and ‘force’ again suggest the move from consciousness to action.
There is also the notion of the magical child as the manifestation of occult workings or encoded sigils.
The Crowned & Conquering Child is Horus, and now we are all Horus.

46. I am the warrior Lord of the Forties: the Eighties cower before me, & are abased. I will bring you to victory & joy: I will be at your arms in battle & ye shall delight to slay. Success is your proof; courage is your armour; go on, go on, in my strength; & ye shall turn not back for any !

‘Warrior Lord of the Forties‘ is a clear prediction of WWII; ‘the Eighties cower‘ is a pretty accurate depiction of a spineless and venal decade.

47. This book shall be translated into all tongues: but always with the original in the writing of the Beast; for in the chance shape of the letters and their position to one another: in these are mysteries that no Beast shall divine. Let him not seek to try: but one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all. Then this line drawn is a key: then this circle squared in its failure is a key also. And Abrahadabra. It shall be his child & that strangely. Let him not seek after this; for thereby alone can he fall from it.

The Key which he discovered is the formula of AL/LA: AL or EL is an ancient Semitic name of God, while the reversal LA is naught or night; one is Had or All, the other Nu or Not.
This interplay of existence and emptiness runs throughout the text of the Book as a whole.
The ‘line drawn’ is an oddity of the original manuscript, which on page 16 of the third chapter is overlaid by a mysterious grid (1-10 vertically, A to H horizontally), where Crowley was clearly trying to figure it all out; there has been much effort expended in attempts to find codes in the letters which this line connects by the various experts.
‘this circle squared in its failure’ is a circle with an equilateral cross within, the Mark of the Beast ? 
Abrahadabra is discussed under c.III, v.1.
“In The Book of the Law (ch. 3, v. 47) “this circle squared in its failure is a key also.” By “in its failure” is implied, as Aiwaz knew, that the figures were not fully correct.
But in the concealed collocation of letters on that page is found the figure 3.141593, which is the correct value of p to six places of decimals.
It will be noted that this figure begins with 31 – the secret “Key of it all” – and ends with 93, the esoteric key of the whole book.“
Crowley says: “I note that the letters of the Book are the letters of the Book of Enoch; and are stars, or totems of stars.” 

48. Now this mystery of the letters is done, and I want to go on to the holier place.
49. I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.

The fourfold word may be ‘Do What Thou Wilt!’ 
The ‘blasphemy against all gods of men’ is that now we become gods, instead of worshipping them.
We are our own secrets.

50. Curse them ! Curse them ! Curse them !

Cursing, reviling, and rejecting past imposed beliefs and false idols may be a necessary stage of freeing yourself from them.
Changing old habits takes time and energy, but Magick is the formula of Change.
Much of what we think we are is just social programming; to become fully human we must finally think for ourselves.
No small task.
Freedom must be fought for.

51. With my Hawk's head I peck at the eyes of Jesus as he hangs upon the cross.

A blow against Christianity. The viewpoint and theology (as it has now decayed and devolved) of Jesus in incorrect.
It is not unfair to say that this particular movement has set back human progress by 2,000 years and been a disaster for the world.
As Nietzsche said, "Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity." Organized religion is a contradiction in terms, and seldom works out well.

52. I flap my wings in the face of Mohammed & blind him.

Another blow against Islam.
Religions tend to deteriorate into nonsensical dogma and self-serving hierarchies over time, and Islam as a younger movement may still be closer to its “sell-by date”; Crowley did have some admiration for it.
There was a time when Islam was the light of civilization and culture, and preserved the precious books of Classical literature, mathematics and philosophy that the Christians were burning as rapidly as possible.
Now, sad to say, most Islamic countries seem to be rancid theocratic dictatorships; perhaps a doctrine of submission is incompatible with freedom.
Fundamentalisms are the desperate death-throes of religions.
The mystics, ecstatics and visionaries of most traditions are usually quite remarkable, hence often persecuted for heresy by their brethren.

53. With my claws I tear out the flesh of the Indian and the Buddhist, Mongol and Din.

Note that the first and most virulent pair of religions are referred to by their prophets, and their eyes (viewpoints, perspective) rather than their flesh (or people, adherents ?).

54. Bahlasti! Ompehda ! I spit on your crapulous creeds.

A curse formula. So much for organized religions  ! I much prefer joyously disorganized cults.
All Hail Eris ! Praise Discordia ! 

55. Let Mary inviolate be torn upon wheels: for her sake let all chaste women be utterly despised among you !
56. Also for beauty's sake and love's !

Medieval psychotherapy featured tying the insane to wheels and spinning them until their demons flew out.

57. Despise also all cowards; professional soldiers who dare not fight, but play; all fools despise !

....and equally the contempt for life of men.

Of women, Crowley says “She is Sakti, the Magical Door between the Way and the Manifested World.
The great Obstacle than is if that Door be locked up.

58. But the keen and the proud, the royal and the lofty; ye are brothers !
59. As brothers fight ye !

Vigorous competition of ideas leads to progress. Crowley says:
There is perhaps a magical second-meaning in this verse, a reference to the Ritual of which we find hints in the legend of Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Set and Osiris, et cetera.
The "Elder Brother" within us, the Silent Self, must slay the younger brother, the conscious self, and he must be raised again incorruptible.
Note that there are also many myths of combat and slaying by brother or twin gods: Horus & Set, Baldur & Hod, Llew & Goronwy for examples.
These are often interpreted as the changing halves of the year, summer & winter, life & death.

60. There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

This verse again asserts the sovereignty of the individual genius.
See also the monosyllabic manifesto Liber OZ s.f. LXXVII.

61. There is an end of the word of the God enthroned in Ra's seat, lightening the girders of the soul.

Horus as Heru-Ra-Ha is the god; he releases the inherent bonds (’girders’) of incarnation that limit the growth of the soul, the genetic and cultural structures of our being, the habits and compulsions.
The Throne of the falcon-god is the ever-moving horizon.
Compare this to ‘The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.’
0 = 2.

This means that any psychological or alchemical union of opposites… any pair of dualities, light & dark, male & female, subject & object, innocence & experience, idealism & cynicism, faith & doubt, wrong & right, whatever... when you combine, resolve, and understand them, both releases a burst of magical energy and take awareness up to the next level.
Paired concepts are often the way our minds work, how we each create our own universe; but taking that step beyond them, to where they complement and complete rather than conflict with each other, is a wider view.

62. To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss.

‘To me !’ is the refrain of Nuit.
‘tribulation of ordeal’ is the confrontation and integration of the Shadow, in the process of initiation and individuation, of growth and awakening, ‘which is bliss’.

63. The fool readeth this Book of the Law, and its comment; & he understandeth it not.

Again, coded references regarding Fool/fools and Nuit/not. 

64. Let him come through the first ordeal, & it will be to him as silver.

Verses 64-67 appear to be an alchemical process of evolving and transforming the human into a perfected form. First is the lunar sphere, linked to witchcraft and the goddess Hekate, the astral plane and the generative organs.
One must traditionally strengthen the aura and the subtle Body of Light.

65. Through the second, gold.

 “It is fatally false to form an astral image of our Guardian Angel, instead of to perceive that He is equally manifested in all things. See LXV, iii, 25-39.”

66. Through the third, stones of precious water.

The Stone of the Philosophers, and the cosmic ocean of Nuit.
Crossing the Abyss, the waters of Nun or None.
The throat, the Word of Silence.
Again, it is notable that Crowley seems to have been the mage who in modern times really pioneered Crossing the Abyss.
Is it possible to journey to other worlds or new dimensions ?
Can we transcend time?

67. Through the fourth, ultimate sparks of the intimate fire.

The soul of Hadit.
Crowley seems to regard ‘stones of precious water’ as the ‘ultimate sparks of the intimate fire’.

68. Yet to all it shall seem beautiful. Its enemies who say not so, are mere liars.
69. There is success.

Accepting this may be the point of becoming a Thelemite.
Despite the paradoxes, challenges and oddities, something in this book truly speaks to the soul.
Thelema is not a dogma, but a process of exploration and human evolution.
It is essentially an ever-spreading meme, a meta-program of self-creation, which has been wrapped and disguised in the mystery and romance of ancient gods, using deeply magical poetic images that move us on many levels, from the erotic to the intellectual to the sacred, to draw us out of our shells and provide new mythic archetypes to expand our horizons.
It initiates the process of awakening within us, as it opens the visions and omens, the dreams and desires that live latent at our cores.
The beauty of these words and images enthralls us, and then liberates us.
The darkness and blood and violence and darkness that accompany them is no less a part of our human existence, shocking contrasts and shadowed ambiguity, meaning and emptiness. 
The infinite ever-changing beauties of Nuit, the shining beacon of Hadit, inspire us and nurture the seeds of the universal Child who grows into an absolutely unique individual, a perfect Star. 
There has never been anyone like you before, and in all of eternity there never will be again. Dare to be great, strive to be strong, live as everything that you can possibly become, no matter how wild and strange…
In many religious traditions the initiate takes a new Name to bring about change, and in magical careers many of us find more than a few.
The creation of new identities, serial reincarnation in the living flesh, multiple facets of change and being, are our birthright and art.
We can always discover new gods and new meaning in ourselves.
"By names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened."

70. I am the Hawk-Headed Lord of Silence & of Strength; my nemyss shrouds the night-blue sky.

Heru-Ra-Ha combines the aspects of both Harpocrates and Horus.
The ‘night-blue sky’ of Nuit is a shade that you will instinctively know when you see it.
It may also imply the colours beyond the visible spectrum that humans can perceive.
The nemyss is a form of head covering worn by the Egyptian gods, often combined with the diadem or crown of the Royal Uraeus Serpent.

71. Hail! ye twin warriors about the pillars of the world! for your time is nigh at hand.

In Egyptian cosmology the Two Pillars of Heaven are Mount Bakhau in the east and Mount Manu in the west, and the feet and hands of Nut the sky goddess rest upon them.

72. I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia -- but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; & nought remains.

The Double Wand of Power might represent the dual functions of Creation and Destruction. 
The Egyptian gods generally carried the Uas scepter, which had the head of the Set-beast on top and a fork at the lower end, derived from forked sticks used by snake-catchers, an interesting correlation to the Serpent Power.
The Golden Dawn’s Lotus Wand was used the same way, but it included the spectrum of colours in-between the black and white ends, the concept being that you would hold the wand by the coloured segment that corresponded to the sphere you were invoking.
As for the formula of Coph Nia, it is interesting to note that this is the last of the interpolations provided by Rose and the only one in her own hand; her contributions to Liber AL cannot be overlooked.
Crowley also ruminates further:
"The Double Wand of Power" is a curious variant of the common "Wand of Double Power"; the general meaning is "I control alike the Forces of Active and Passive".
The Egyptian Gods are usually represented as bearing an Ankh, or sandal-strap, in the left hand, the wand being in the right.
This ankh signifies the power to go, characteristic of a god.
But apparently Ra Hoor Khuit had an Universe in his left hand, and crushed it so that naught remains.
I think this "Universe" is that of monistic metaphysics; in one hand is the "Double Wand", in the other "naught".
This seems to refer to the 'None and Two' ontology outlined in previous notes.”
The well-known symbol of the Ankh or ‘Life’ has many meanings in addition to sandal-strap, which refers to the power of Going.
It is also related to a very similar amulet called the Knot of Isis (knots and binding have a long history in magical methods), is an image of the hand-mirror sacred to Hathor or Venus (which were sometimes in pairs, gold for sun and silver for moon), and has also been interpreted as a bouquet of flowers, a sweet-scented offering to the gods.

73. Paste the sheets from right to left and from top to bottom: then behold !

Rather a mysterious instruction. 

74. There is a splendour in my name hidden and glorious, as the sun of midnight is ever the son.

The sun of midnight is the dark or invisible phase, the sun on the opposite side of the earth, essentially the nightly journey of the solar barque in its circuit through the underworld of Amenta, when Osiris dies and is born anew as Ra each dawn.
In the more biological form of the earliest mythos the sun god is swallowed by the sky goddess at dusk and passes through her body to be reborn with each sunrise.
Crowley associates the scarab-beetle form of Khephra with midnight, but originally he represented daybreak, transformation and endless becoming.

75. The ending of the words is the Word Abrahadabra.

This is the final Word that completes Liber AL and also the Work of the previous prophets who uttered aeonic Words… until the next Age of Maat, when we find Ipsos, ‘By that same Mouth’. Nothing is Forever.

The Book of the Law is Written
and Concealed.
Aum. Ha.

That is to say that it is both manifested (Horus) and contains hidden meanings for each individual (invisible, as Harpocrates). 

A final Crowley quote, to give him the last word:

"The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic.
There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength.
Mighty and terrible and glorious as it is, however, it is but the pennon upon the sacred lance of Will, the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema."

- Aleister Crowley

The God wisely refrains from clear expression, so that the event, as it occurs, may justify His word.
This progressive illumination of that word has served to keep it alive as no single revelation could have done.
Every time that I have dulled to Liber Legis something has happened to rekindle it in my heart.”
- Aleister Crowley

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014